Exodus 1:9-11 New King James Version
9 And he said to his people, “Look, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we; 10 come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and it happen, in the event of war, that they also join our enemies and fight against us, and so go up out of the land.” 11 Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh supply cities, Pithom and Raamses.
These days it seems like nobody is particularly happy with the way things are going. Yet, instead of taking action and changing things, we all sit back and wait for someone else to “fix” it. Maybe we’re all under the mistaken impression that patience is a virtue and that somehow, our suffering is something to be tolerated instead of eradicated. But there is a difference between waiting your turn like a good little person and letting the grass grow up over you until you’ve become nothing more than fertilizer. There comes a time when you must look at your situation and determine whether or not God is waiting on you. And believe it or not, a good portion of the time, He is.
We were not designed to be pushed around, bullied, taken advantage of, belittled, or otherwise abused. God doesn’t want you to be deceived. He doesn’t want you to stand back and let someone hurt someone else if you have any means of speaking out or taking action that would stop that abuse. Sometimes it means we physically step in; sometimes it means we speak out. Sometimes, it means we pray for them; sometimes it means we minister to them. And it could be that we won’t be heard when we try to speak up or minister to someone, but we should still make the effort. What if Jesus had simply stood back and watched those angry men stone the adulterous woman instead of drawing a line in the sand and asking them if they were without sin? Would He really have stood by and let them kill her? The point of the example is not only to show us His compassion toward us, but to give an example of the type of advocacy that we should be practicing for one another.
It seems daunting to think about how we could possibly step out and speak on behalf of someone who is being mistreated; especially when so many of our complaints seem to fall on deaf ears these days. But as human beings, it is our duty to show compassion and to show strength when someone else is weak. Not to make them feel weaker, but to give them an example of how to be strong. Does it really make sense to see a headline that makes you angry and to file it away as annoying instead of looking further into why the thing happened, who was involved, what can be done to change it, and how you can help? No, it really doesn’t. But all too often, we wait for someone to give us permission to speak up or to tell us how we are allowed to react before we step forward and acknowledge whatever it is we’ve seen or heard.
For example, how many of us have heard about the child trafficking ring that is plaguing our world? Probably just about all of us, right? Yet, the problem still exists. And even though we have an idea of who is involved in it, these individuals continue to hold positions of power in our government and in other areas of influence. Even though we all have heard that allegations of misconduct have been swept under the rug or high-priced lawyers have somehow made those situations “disappear,” we continue to wait for someone else to take action. There are a few brave individuals out there who are rescuing trafficked children and trying to bring awareness to the issue, but their voices are being stifled by those who benefit from the child trafficking industry. They’ve been bought and they protect those who keep them paid up. And make no mistake, these people fight dirty. They will stop at nothing to make sure that you only get the parts of the story that make certain individuals look good.
As I like to remind them when I see them posting their lies and rhetoric, you may be able to hide the truth from some of us, but God sees it all and He is not at all happy. And when the time comes, He will let you know just how unhappy He is. For now, He is giving His people a chance to stand up. He is calling on us to live up to our potential as human beings who are not afraid to stand up to evil. It isn’t enough for you just to “be good” in your own little corner of the world. To fully become what God intended you to be, you absolutely must be willing to tear down the curtain. You must be willing to stop allowing evil to run rampant and shed the mentality that it’s okay if evil exists as long as it doesn’t run into your yard.
Child trafficking, of course, isn’t the only thing we seem to turn a blind eye to. We’re all very much aware of poverty, abuse, and neglect in the lives of those we choose not to see. We take solace in dropping a few bucks into a cup when we see those guys on the exit ramps with their signs, but I’ll let you in on a little secret…most of the time, those guys aren’t the ones who really need help. Those guys are working together in a calculated effort to get money from people who don’t want to step up for those experiencing true poverty. Sounds harsh, but it’s true. Take the time to watch them as they change shifts each day and you’ll see the same group of people stationed at the same spots whenever the weather is slightly bad or close to payday. They know when they can count on your support. And sadly, they get it. I don’t begrudge anyone a meal, shelter, and clothing. But I cannot abide this type of trickery. Having worked in non-profits and specifically with the homeless for several years, I know that these individuals simply fit a recognizable profile that can’t possibly capture the essence of why someone falls on hard times.
If you really want to help someone, there are many people out there who are trapped in abusive relationships, people who are unable to get the education they need to help them land a better job, or those who are simply struggling to find work or housing that fits their needs and resources. There are single mothers and fathers out there who don’t know who to ask for help or who have been beaten down so that they don’t believe they deserve help. Those people won’t be out standing on the corner holding a sign. But if you open your eyes and stop listening to the narratives, you may be able to see them sitting behind you in church or shuffling through the grocery store trying to figure out what they can afford to buy. These are the people who have already sold off anything they had that was of value. They didn’t qualify for help from welfare because they had a good year last year, but have been unemployed for the last six months. Or maybe they have kids and they are trying to work, but can’t find decent childcare that they can afford. Not everyone is okay with just leaving their kids with any old sitter. Some people actually want to be proactive when it comes to protecting their children from trauma. There are so many situations that don’t fit into the usual narrative for people in poverty, yet we seem to stick to the idea that those who need help can get it and those who get help actually choose to be in poverty. That simply isn’t the case.
Why am I busting your chops about this today? Well, I’ve been sitting here in my bubble, looking around at all of the things that are wrong in the world and I’ve been chomping at the bit to figure out how to make it stop. It cannot be that so many people in this world are apathetic, so it must be that in all of the busyness of life, you just didn’t think about it or that the people you trusted to tell you the truth have been less than forthcoming. And who has time to go digging for more information? Isn’t that why we have journalists and media personalities? Isn’t that what we’ve trusted our government officials to do? And what about our churches? The people who are supposed to be doing the work to keep us safe and informed in our country simply aren’t doing their jobs, but for some reason there are lots of people out there who don’t see this.
And so, the Christians are waiting for God to do something. The Republicans are waiting for the courts to do something. The MAGA group is waiting for Donald Trump to do something. The Democrats…well, I’m not sure what they are doing, but I can assure you it’s every bit as ineffective as what everyone else is doing. Waiting won’t make it happen. Waiting only gives the bad guys time to continue inflicting damage. And trust me, they’re not waiting.